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Brett Zinter '05

St. Louis, Missouri

Majors in Biochemistry and History

The ability to learn something new provided Brett Zinter with unexpected career opportunities.

Brett Zinter '05

Thanks to a broad Knox education that stressed always learning something new, Brett Zinter ’05 was able to refocus his career and move into the supply chain industry.

Zinter attended an international baccalaureate program in Denver and remembers stopping by a recruitment event with Knox alumni: “I remember being shocked that, for the size of the College, so many alumni showed up. They started raving about Knox and how awesome it was.” 

The opportunity to play soccer, the small school feel, and the ability to really get to know his professors drew him to Knox and have had a lasting impact on his career and outlook on life. 

Tell us about your career path.

After graduation, I took a job at Sigma-Aldrich in St. Louis as a production biochemist. I was taking what I learned from Knox about chemistry, and doing hands-on, larger-scale work. It was a really cool opportunity to start applying what I had learned.

After about 10 years, I got involved in a large-scale project that was taking our research and upgrading it to the medical diagnostic level. That required a lot of documentation and looking at the procurement side of things for raw materials coming in, as well as manufacturing controls—making sure there weren't any deviations from procedures.

I started thinking about all these different factors that go into making a high-quality product and realized that I was interested in supply chain management. I quit my job and enrolled in a master’s program in the business school at Washington University in St. Louis.

After completing that program, I took a job with Llamasoft, which is now called Coupa Software. I work with the United States Transportation Command, located at Scott Air Force Base. They have a large global transportation network for the military, and we help them find the best way to move equipment and personnel all over the world.

What memories do you have of Knox?

I have so many fond memories of playing soccer, the fantastic people in the Admission Office where I worked for my final two years at Knox, and beautiful spring days (especially Flunk Days) on campus. Perhaps the most significant thing that stands out is the outstanding quality of personalities. Whether in class, in the Gizmo, or at a party on the weekends, I remember Knox students always having something insightful, unique, or otherwise interesting to say. Knox draws in vibrant personalities and creates a community where everyone can be distinct and still be strongly connected. It was awesome being a part of that environment during my time at Knox.

Are there any professors you remember well?

When I was there, the chair of the biochemistry department was Professor Janet Kirkley. She was very intense, and she really fascinated me. She spent a summer touring around Europe following the Clash between undergrad and grad school. She has an awesome personality.

Andy Mehl, George Appleton Lawrence Distinguished Service Professor of Chemistry, was more quiet and soft-spoken. But they were both awesome teachers.

How have your studies influenced you?

What I call the "theory of knowledge" is very similar to the first preceptorial classes at Knox—you take a concept and go after it from a number of different disciplines.

This has helped me a lot in my career. I have learned the skill of being able to explain something by breaking it down and then re-synthesizing it.

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Printed on Saturday, June 22, 2024